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|Tuesday, June 20, 2000, updated at 08:35(GMT+8)|
Syrian Ruling Party Convenes to Affirm Bashar's LeadershipThe ninth congress of Syria'a ruling Arab Baath Socialist Party opens Saturday morning, during which Bashar al-Assad, son and heir of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, is expected to be named the new leader of the party.
This means a further step for Bashar, 34, towards the presidency of Syria.
Bashar would be elected secretary general of the party to replace his father, who died on June 10 at the age of 69.
The ninth congress, the first in 15 years, will also elect the new leadership of the party, including the 90-member central committee, the elite regional leadership whose 21 members will be elected by the central committee, and the five-member supervisory body.
Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa Miro and Foreign Minister Faruk Shareh are expected to enter the new leadership.
Information Minister Adnan Omran said before the opening of the congress that the meeting would review the political, organizational and economic reports of the party's former leadership under the late president and draw up the future strategy and executive guidelines of the party.
The minister hailed the congress as a turning point in Syria's history, referring to the succession of power of Bashar, who has advocated a policy of "reform, development and openness."
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